Archive for category nancy pelosi
While a major media news blackout provides cover, Congress is debating whether to give the president the authority to fast-track a massive free trade agreement, the secretly-negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Members of Congress haven’t even been able to read it even though corporate lobbyists have.
President Obama is at odds with Democrats in both houses of Congress concerning reauthorizing a procedure called the “trade promotion authority” (TPA), that would grant the White House power to submit free trade deals to Congress for an up-or-down vote without amendments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is strongly against it.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has now publicly opposed giving President Obama fast track authority.
“We need transparency. We need a seat at the table to understand what they believe they are doing, so we can make it better. And if we don’t make it better, then we will not accept a path that is a job loser.”
TPP is part of the plan for global corporatocracy run by and for the 1 Percent. Unelected lobbyists and trade representatives are at the table, while representatives from the public at large and businesses other than huge monopolies, are conspicuously absent. From what little we know of the agreement, it would violate the U.S. Constitution, weaken environmental protections, and lead to more job losses, erosion of wages, and worsening inequality. TPP also threatens freedom of speech on the Internet because it would extend restrictive intellectual property laws and rewrite international rules on enforcement.
Today the GOP-controlled House of Representatives narrowly approved a revised version of the Farm Bill that completely leaves out the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs, or food stamps, that millions of low-income Americans currently depend on. No Democrats voted for the bill.
Republicans framed the debate in bloodless terms, saying that separating food stamps from agricultural policy was the logical thing to do. Rules committee chair Pete Session, R-Texas, said the new version of the bill “excludes some extraneous provisions,” a statement that drew outrage from his Democratic colleagues.
The House-passed Farm Bill does include lavish taxpayer subsidies for wealthy farmers, including some members of Congress.
“I would have said it’s one of the worst things you’ve done, but there’s such stiff competition for that honor,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
UPDATE: Robert L. Borosage: Republicans Nix Food Stamps: This Is Who They Are
This wasn’t intended as legislation. It was intended as a declaration of identity. This is who they are. Think about that.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has signed off on a complicated deal to raise the debt limit. Bottom line: it includes a path to renewing the Bush-Obama Tax Cuts For The Rich in exchange for a vague “tax reform” package to be determined by a super-committee of Congress.
That’s a template for massive deficits in the future (or worse, massive budget cuts including Medicare cuts). The CBO says that if Congress does nothing about taxes, deficits will disappear within five years without the need for budget cuts.
Can this pass the House of Representatives? This afternoon, Rep. Jason Chaffetz told MSNBC that Speaker John Boehner “will have his hands full” trying to deliver enough votes for the deal.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is skeptical of the deal. So are other House Dems.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), a leader among House progressives, blasted the deal in an official statement earlier Sunday.
“This deal trades peoples’ livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it,” he said.
It’s likely that neither Boehner nor Pelosi can get support for this deal from more than half of their respective caucuses.
The answer ought to be “no deal.” Congress needs to pass a one-sentence, $3 trillion extension of the debt ceiling, and then let’s talk about JOBS and how we are going to recover the American economy. If you reward hostage-taking, it only gets worse. If you prioritize budget-cutting over job creation, it only gets worse. Democrats are nominally in charge of Washington, and they will get the blame. So why make concessions to the extreme right-wing minority?
UPDATE: Jon Walker on FDL:
This is not how I want my country to be run. This process of disaster legislating makes a mockery of both our Constitution and the basic principles of democracy. Yet, given that Obama’s spinelessness has allowed it to be incredibly effective I can hardly blame the Republicans for using it.
Tragically, this will be our future as long as Obama is president. We will lurch from crisis to crisis. Each time, the GOP will use a threat to harm the economy in order to to extract massive concessions from Obama. Each time Obama will say how he had to give in but promises to really fight next time.
This is the best possible bipartisan agreement – is it better than nothing?
Those of us who observed politics during the Clinton administration know that you have to pay careful attention to the exact words Bill Clinton uses, and never assume that he has said something he didn’t actually say. Yesterday at the White House, this is what Clinton said about the McConnell-Obama tax cuts for the rich:
“[T]he agreement taken as a whole is, I believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach to help the largest number of Americans…”
He did not say McConnell-Obama is the best possible agreement, and he did not say it is the best policy for the country as a whole. He said it is “the best bipartisan agreement we can reach” (emphasis added). Bill Clinton knows as well as anyone that the Party of NO (aka the Republican Party) refuses to compromise on taxes, and any “bipartisan agreement” means agreeing to surrender to the GOP.
CNN’s Fareed Zakaria is the latest observer to confirm that the McConnell-Obama deal was “lopsided in that the Republicans got exactly what they wanted.”
What we need to do is look at this objectively. President Obama’s goal may be to achieve bipartisanship at any cost (in this case, nearly $900 billion of our money). That’s not the right approach. The President would be well-advised to do what’s best for America. Under the present circumstances, refusing to make a deal with the Republicans would be better than any possible agreement. The Bush tax cuts are set to expire automatically on December 31 if Congress does not act. These tax cuts are the major cause of the long-term budget deficit problem.
In negotiation theory, the “best alternative to a negotiated agreement” or BATNA is the course of action that will be taken if negotiations fail and an agreement cannot be reached. A successful negotiator constantly keeps the BATNA in mind, and is prepared to walk away if the deal that is offered is worse than no agreement at all.
It’s very unlikely that Senator Bernie Sanders has enough to support to win a cloture vote on Monday and kill the McConnell-Obama deal. However, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has the power to keep this bad deal from reaching the House floor before the end of the 111th Congress.
Remember, getting President Obama to openly betray the 63 million Americans who voted for him was just the first part of the Republican plan. Next year the GOP-controlled House can be expected to declare federal deficits as the nation’s number one problem. Ignoring the need for economic recovery, including aid to state governments, they will try to cut budgets for non-defense programs. They will renew the assault on Social Security.
I’ve been keeping an eye on the right-wing blogs and it really seems they are laying low and keeping quiet. The Tea Party Patriots are opposed to McConnell-Obama, but there hasn’t been much coming from anybody else. Wasn’t extending the Bush tax cuts a big issue for the right? Why are we hearing crickets now?
UPDATE: I found an interesting commentary on The Right Sphere, which seems to be taking a wait-and-see position (emphasis added):
Moving forward, the GOP needs to tackle the budget. Cuts need to be made everywhere. They need to propose cuts over and over again and force Democrats to defend every single program run by the Federal Government. …
The only way this tax deal works is if it is followed up by these spending cuts. The GOP needs to prove that they understand that spending is the problem, not revenue. They need to pound on this message constantly: “Taxes aren’t spending. Spending is spending.” Many are very skeptical if the GOP even believes this and if they can deliver this message with policy.
UPDATE: Robert Reich: Why Bill Clinton’s Favorable View of Obama’s Tax Deal Should Be Disregarded
UPDATE: Jeff Cohen: President NAFTA Backs President SHAFTA
UPDATE: Rocky Anderson and 56 leading progressives sign an open letter calling for a protest in front of the White House on December 16th.
The election of Obama has not galvanized protest movements. To the contrary, it has depressed and undermined them, with the White House playing an active role in the discouragement and suppression of dissent – with disastrous consequences. The almost complete absence of protest from the left has emboldened the most right-wing elements inside and outside of the Obama administration to pursue and act on an ever more extreme agenda.
UPDATE: McCain Flashback: ‘I Would Clearly Support Not Extending [Bush] Tax Cuts In Order To Help Address The Deficit’ (That was six years ago, bet he thought we forgot).
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rep. Eric Cantor
Item: Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday during an extraordinary meeting in New York that the new GOP majority in the House will “serve as a check” on the Obama administration, a statement unusual for its blunt disagreement with U.S. policy delivered directly to a foreign leader.
Via TPM: As Ron Kampeas at the Jewish Telegraph Agency put it, he couldn’t “remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the president.”
Yes, that’s the same Eric Cantor who castigated Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi just three years ago for allegedly violating the Logan Act on a trip to Syria– even though she was careful not to criticize the Bush administration.
The Logan Act makes it a felony and provides for a prison sentence of up to three years for any American, “without authority of the United States,” to communicate with a foreign government in an effort to influence that government’s behavior on any “disputes or controversies with the United States.”
Fortunately for politicians like Eric Cantor, no one has ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act since it became law in 1799.
Also, as Glenn Greenwald points out, it is hard to imagine “that Israel needs to be protected from the extremely deferential and devoted Obama administration.”
UPDATE: Cantor spokesman walks it back, a little.
Here’s the problem. George W. Bush is already widely acknowledged as the Worst President Ever, but he also ran the most secretive administration ever. Which means there is a awful lot we don’t know yet.
On the financial meltdown front, there are two stories that cropped up today which indicate the Bush administration’s efforts to hide the truth about the American economy.
Greenspan and Bernanke Covered Up Housing Bubble Dangers
Last Friday, the Federal Reserve released the transcripts of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings for 2004. Unlike the edited FOMC minutes, the transcripts are kept secret for five years. Then an entire year’s worth of transcripts are released at the same time.
In some of the 2004 FOMC meetings, several Federal Reserve bank presidents and Fed associate research director Stephen Oliner pointed out alarming levels of speculation in the housing markets. Instead, the minutes reflect Greenspan and Bernanke’s position that the rise in housing prices was nothing to worry about.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi Says Bushies Hid Wall Street Credit Crisis
Talking Points Memo asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the crucial meeting that led to the Wall Street bailout 18 months ago:
In a meeting that evening [September 18, 2008] with Congressional leaders and staff, [Treasury Secretary Hank] Paulson, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and others offered a dire assessment, and made an appeal for intervention that ultimately resulted in TARP. Bernanke and Paulson beseeched the legislators to act quickly, warning that, the entire U.S. economy might collapse in days without rapid intervention. But Pelosi had a question. “I asked them, and said, ‘Why am I calling you – why didn’t you call me?,” Pelosi said.
Good question. Like 2004, of course 2008 was a Presidential election year. Perhaps the Bush administration was hoping to quietly stave off the collapse of the financial sector until they left office.
According to Speaker Pelosi’s account:
“Here’s what they said. They said, ‘We were not allowed to tell Congress, but since you called, we’re going to answer your questions.'”
OK, I hope we can find out more about this!
I’ve long felt of the big three, Speaker Pelosi is by far the most cunning and ruthless. Reid is pugilist, he likes a good fight; Obama is a strategic thinker, deeply engaged in the issues, but not cunning and certainly not ruthless. Nancy Pelosi, however, is reminding me of the great politicians of the past – like FDR she is cagey, shrewd, knows how to work the angles. Read the rest of this entry »